Germany’s Transport Ministry sees no need to rush combustion engine phase-out deal with EU

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BERLIN, March 23 (Reuters) – Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing rejected calls for a quick agreement with the European Commission over a phase-out of combustion engines after 2035, saying Germany needs a backup before agreeing to EU plans.

After months of negotiations, EU countries and the European Parliament agreed the law last year. But Germany’s Transport Ministry surprised other countries this month by lodging last-minute objections, days before a final vote that would have seen it enter into force.

The ministry’s main demand is that the EU allow sales of new cars running on e-fuels after 2035. On Tuesday, it said it was in contact with the Commission to try to reach a solution on an issue being closely watched by Germany’s powerful car industry.

Germany’s Environment Minister Steffi Lemke on Sunday said an agreement should be reached in the coming days, as the parties had hoped to secure an agreement by Thursday’s EU summit.

Talks with the Commission were making “good progress”, Wissing said while cautioning that Germany needed time to agree on a legally secure basis for the approval of new combustion engine cars powered by e-fuel after 2035.

“We’re talking about regulation for the year 2035. I don’t understand why we can’t take our time now to take a closer look at things,” Wissing told Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.

He said a vehicle category for e-fuels cars must be created in European regulation as Germany needed a “legally clean solution” through a procedure that would not fail before the EU Parliament.

“Before we have a yes, we have to have a backup … We had it before that we had a commitment from the Commission and then nothing happened,” he said.

epa1033829 German Transport Minister Volker Wissing attends a meeting of the German Federal cabinet at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

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